He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Growing up on the gulf coast, I am no stranger to storms, particularly of the wind and rain variety. Because my father managed the local grain elevator, June had a very different rhythm for us. It was the time in which the grain harvest began, and hurricane season started. Because our family’s livelihood and many of the families I knew were dependent upon a successful and good harvest, we were weather watchers in my house. Predictably, every time a storm was about to hit land in our area, my father would calmly do everything he could to prepare the grain elevator for the storm and then come home, look around the house, and promptly go to the bedroom and take a nap—much to my mother’s horror. How in the world could he sleep when all this danger was surrounding us? I remember asking my father, “How did you do that?” He replied simply, “I knew I couldn’t control it or change it.”
How true is that? The challenge, I think, for all of us in our lives is to be cognizant of the things that we cannot change, but equally aware of the things that we can. As I was thinking about my childhood in the context of today’s gospel lesson, I am reminded that the disciples in the boat with Jesus were about to be overwhelmed and overtaken by a situation they could not control and could not change. They awakened the one person who could. Jesus alone in that scenario had the power and the authority to still the storm and to bring calm. When we encounter the storms in our lives and in the nation and global community, may we remember to call upon the one who repeatedly did still the storms and bring hope.
Blessings and in faith,
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 832)